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Friday, June 27, 2008

The Candy-seller on Cycle is back: Magic of Mithai-wala

In my childhood, the guy on cycle who sold this unique 'mithai' (sweet) was always a most sought after person.

The guy would pull a bit of 'mithai' from the top of the pole and then create any shape out of it.

The shapes ranged from a small seeti [whistle] to a tree, a bird or even a four-wheeler like a jeep or car.

Of course, the bird and the whistle were the cheapest and in those days not everybody could afford to pay more than 50 paise or Re 1.

Most of the kids went for the 'chidiya' [bird] that cost just 25 paise. It was like a desi chewing gum, though much tastier.


Or, perhaps memories of childhood are always more tastier. After a long time, I recently spotted a mithai-seller.

He told me that business was no longer good. The mithai-wala also said that he had come from Malegaon [Maharashtra] and mostly sold this mithai in slums and outside schools.


Surely, not English medium schools but government schools where children still eat ber, imli, jamun et al.

That is another reason why we don't come across these mithai-walas, as much. I gave him Rs 5 and he deftly created a cycle for me, within seconds.
Back to Bachpan

It did look like a magic in childhood when the mithai-wala made the chidiya and would blow a customary whistle without any lip movement while dishing out the creation to the kid.

That was a sales trick as children would feel that the sound had come out of the 'bird' and they always tried to imitate.

Of late, I was feeling that these mithai-walas have become extinct. And when I found it decades later, again I was fascinated by the art. In the photo along with the post, you can see this little ' sweet cycle' made of the sugary floss.

As it was quite hot, I rushed to my destination, showed it to a couple of friends before it melted into my mouth.

Really delicious! Is there anybody who hasn't tasted it? If only a Pepsi or an Uncle Chipps markets it, this would be sold for five times the existing price.

And then it would be fashionable to buy it. But the poor mithai-walas continue to earn barely in the range of Rs 100-Rs 150 on their best days and confine themselves to areas inhabited by the poor.

Pictures: 1.The desi sweetmeat seller on his cycle that holds a pole covered with umbrella to prevent the sugary material from melting.

2. In the other photo a child looks at mithai-wala's art, engrossed. 3. Here the 'mithai wali cycle' is ready for consumption.

16 comments:

میرا پاکستان said...

Believe me same mithai I used to eat in Punjab, Pakistan during my childhood days. This mithai wala used to walk in streets and sometimes go to schools. I am still wondering how he would be able to feed his family with such limited income.

indscribe said...

Ya. Unfortunately these traditional things are forgotten. These people can't take on the sweets & snacks offered by globalised markets, either chips or chewing gums.

Ye manzilen !! said...

A
Ye kaun se shhahr ka kaun raasta hai?

Saad Akhtar said...

Great find! These were great! Or maybe, like you said... the memories make them seem great.

I don't remember the taste exactly, but back then they were the coolest thing ever! These and those long flavored ice in a long plastic tube.

Both were forbidden, which made them even cooler!

Syed Akbar said...

Great to see your blog. i too used to eat this mithai. in our city - vijayawada - we used to call it Bombay Mithai. It reminded me of my childhood days. I am a science journalist based in hyderabad. my blog is: http://syedakbarindia.blogspot.com

thanks for the nice posts

Laila Hussein said...

u have a very nice blog, masha'Allah

ishqia said...

hey i never ate them.. i dont think they r found in my place..
how creative to make that cycle with hand.. that was awsome.. it was great to read that post.. if i come accross such candy sellers... i m surely going to buy one..

Anser Azim said...

yaade maazi kuch ajeeb hai ya rab
mat cheen mujhse hafiza mera!!!!.
wonderful post that took me into my memory lanes with the importance of those important chewannis and paanch and dus paisas
that i used to get for writing 'takhtees'for getting these stuff.
keep this up

Anser Azim, Chicago

indscribe said...

Thanks Saad Sb, Akhtar Sb

Shukria Laila Sahib, Ishqia Sahiba.

Anser Sb, kab se hindustan aana nahiin huaa aapka!

Anaa said...

the same mithai i used to eat during my school days in karachi .
yup !birds were most cheapest to buy then....
you have a nice blog .i have been reading it from quite some time ,,,especially your posts related to poetry

Sayan said...

Sir,
I really feel bad when here the story of Azhar not getting house.
But I feel the situation was not so bad always. I personally have many Muslim friends but we never thought this way.
But I have an explaination to this situation: I feel for long time there has been many incidents of terror from the particular community. I know my muslim friends will never kill me but there are people who can. So it is not hetred , it is fear.
In occations like Amarnath shrine board if Muslim leaders had supported shrine then this could be a confidence building.
I opposed Gujrat riot and my friends participated in protest in streets of calcutta but some times I feel if Muslims also protests the ugly face of terror in India then the situation could be controlled.
I will really wait to see Muslims comming out and protesting in public while I believe lakhs of Muslims silently protests Terrorism in Hyderabsd or protest march against Amarnath shrine land transfer.

Sayan said...

I really want to see that time comes back when I will go to my mais's house for Simai of Eid and they will come to our Durga Puja festival but as I told you earlier as we protest Gujrat riot on street we will wait to see protest march from educated Muslim community against Kashmiris who opposed Land transfer because I believe if Subsidies are there for a particular community then there is no harm transfering land to shrine.

Anonymous said...

I loooooooooved this sweet. I grew up in Bombay and we used to call the seller "Cycle Banao". Can still remember the flavour. It was like a chewy sweet mint. Delicious!!

Anonymous said...

You have really great taste on catch article titles, even when you are not interested in this topic you push to read it

Anonymous said...

Do you have copy writer for so good articles? If so please give me contacts, because this really rocks! :)

Anonymous said...

Few days back my daughter asked me that in "OLDEN DAYS" when I was a kid did we get good candy and this reminded me of this mesmerizing candy . The sticky stretchy candy that kept us waiting in the afternoons. I always wanted a peacock though the seller could make any thing very nicely and fast. In Pakistan the candy had rainbow colored streak going through the sweet white candy . I wonder if it's still sold there or not. Those were the times when kids were free of all electronic devices and spent their evening playing together outside so hardly any vendor was missed.I told me daughter that even though those were Olden days but they were GOLDEN DAYS